Publication Date





Introduction Communities responded to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic with mandatory social-distancing regulations. Pandemic and disaster research shows that social isolation can often cause negative emotions and medical provider burnout. The primary objective of this study was to create and evaluate a novel wellness program, the Happy Hour Wellness Initiative (HHWI), based on peer support group concepts to foster resilience for emergency healthcare providers in response to a novel disaster. Methods The study was performed at a large emergency department with physicians, advanced practice providers, and staff invited to attend weekly "virtual happy hour" sessions. Participants individually opted into each of the six weekly sessions, with no obligation to attend. The program was designed based on the tenets of a peer support group and implemented by video conferencing. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire and answered open-ended questions after the six-session HHWI ended. Results Of the 40 survey respondents, 30% reported feeling stressed and 40% felt isolated at the early declaration of the pandemic. Regarding the HHWI, 90% of participants had no expectations from the HHWI, but 90% reported that their favorite part of the initiative was the feeling of togetherness. Most participants (95%) requested a continuation of the HHWI, even if not by a video-conferencing platform, and 90% reported feeling sad after the HHWI ended. Conclusion The emergency department HHWI was a welcome opportunity for employees to combat stress and anxiety brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing. The initiative fostered team building, comradery, group advocacy, stress relief, and cheerfulness. The initiative was so greatly welcomed as a tool for wellness that almost all participants recommended that the HHWI should be available, not just in times of hardship, but year-round. The HHWI has provided a new approach to promote wellness in emergency care providers using a peer support group.


COVID-19 pandemic, postgrad medical education, social support, wellness and resilience, wellness resources



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.